By Bertrand Ngim, Ph.D. | June 2017
Whether it is the California Delta or Delaware River, tidal river systems offer outstanding bass fishing opportunities that are balanced by a multitude of challenges intrinsic in these dynamic fisheries anglers must master, from the mechanics of tidal phenomena or even manmade interventions such as water releases to name a few.
I recently had the opportunity to fish the Yeongsan River Delta in South Korea with bass guide Kang Hohyeong and it was a blast. The fishing was tough primarily due to my limited fondness for tidal fisheries but once we got things figured out the payoffs were simply remarkable.
The Yeongsan River Delta is situated in the southwest of the Korean Peninsula. It has a length of approximately 80 miles, with a basin area of approximately 1,339 square miles and runs through Damyang, Naju and Gwanju regions, eventually flowing into the Yellow Sea. The river is well-known for producing quality largemouth bass, carp, northern snakehead and even seabass in the estuaries.
Yeongsan River Delta boasts many opportunities and challenges that are unique, notably secondary current generated by manmade structures such as floodgates that drive the releases of water from the delta into canals that channel water into the rice farms along the vast expanse of the river banks. Rice is a major crop in Korea and the Yeongsan River is the region’s primary source of water for rice farming. In fact, certain areas of the river often exhibit the mechanics of varying water levels similar to hydroelectric dams and natural tide combined.
We fished three primary areas, from the Geumgang-Ri flats and Yeongsan Road shoreline in the southwest to a river ledge upstream, starting in extremely muddy to relatively clear water as we moved further upriver on predominantly outgoing tides with irregular water releases in the mix.
I was fishing a light punch rig on the outside edges of matted vegetation and grass most of the time. The vegetation was not remarkably dense and that enabled me to punch through various types of cover on a 3/8oz sinker with ease. Smaller sinkers hold a slight advantage because I believe it generates more bites and is less intrusive in areas that receive a lot of pressure. I caught bass in the 2 to 4lb range on a Zoom Magnum Lizard and some on Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. Magnum Lizards are bulky baits but they penetrate sparse mats pretty well. Most of the quality bites occurred on the initial fall of the bait. We tried topwater frogs in areas unreachable by light punch rig but the frog bite just was not there yet.
Once the outgoing flow had slackened downriver, it was time to head upriver to fish a ledge where conditions were vastly different to those found downstream. You may have noticed the stark differences in water clarity in some of the images that show a gradual transition, from extremely muddy downstream to greenish tint upstream.
Our primary focus was a protected area that usually holds schools of largemouths along a river ledge. We were in an area with 20’ to 25’ of water and a boulder line along the face of the bluff that demands a complete switch in approach. River ledges like these hold lots of opportunities.
Two of my favorite baits for ledge fishing are crankbaits and Carolina-rig or Texas-rig. Ledge fishing comes with many variables and it involves experiments to find out what works best on a given day. As a case in point, I fished a Texas-rigged 8” worm and even swimbaits to get started but could only get the school of fish to bite deep crankbaits.
All in all, our day on the Yeongsan River Delta turned out to be remarkably positive. We caught a load of keeper size bass, 3lb’ers and even 4lb’ers in a multitude of conditions, from shallow to deep in muddy and clear water. I learned a load of new stuff on what was actually my first real experience on a tidal river bass fishery with bass guide Kang Hohyeong.
Want to fish for bass in South Korea?
Mr. Kang Hohyeong is a doctorate student at Kyonggi University’s graduate school. He majored in outdoor sports and angling sciences. He’s a semi-professional angling guide and does bass and multispecies fishing trips, both shore and boat fishing, all over South Korea. He runs a 17’ Tracker Pro Team 175 bass boat and fishes the Yeongsan River Delta regularly.
He is also a field staff for JS Rods and the South Korean distributorship of Huddleston swimbaits and an experienced guide. He speaks fluent Korean and decent English. I encourage you to check out his Facebook profile and get in touch with him for more details about his guided trips in South Korea https://www.facebook.com/hohyeong.kang.